Ways to save over the holidays
• Choose gift cards from interesting places for hard-to-please teens or grown-ups. Letting them shop at their favourite store saves you the stress of finding the perfect gift. It’s okay to ask ahead of time, and that way you know they will love it;
• A $5 gift card for a coffee shop is enough for most fancy drinks, and is a good stocking stuffer. You don’t have to fund their caffeine for a month; a one-time indulgence is a nice treat;
• Don’t give up on sales; there are lots of specials and reductions as Christmas gets closer.
• Buy generic cards in bulk; everyone knows what day it is, so don’t feel pressure to buy ones that identify the holiday;
• Pick up card stock from a craft shop, and some stamps and ink, or stickers. This can be a great activity to keep kids busy, and most people love homemade cards when they are made with love;
• Make a list of gifts you need, rather than people you need to shop for. Make as many decisions as possible before leaving home, and set your budget before shopping;
• Set dollar limits with your spouse, family and friends for gifts and stocking stuffers, and challenge yourselves to stay within your limits;
• Of course, try to avoid last-minute shopping, or shopping under pressure. The first and last hours at the mall are usually quietest;
• Keep your coat in the car or at home if it’s not too cold outside, so you can shop more comfortably;
• It is well worth the cost of a babysitter for a few hours shopping without the added pressure of keeping children entertained, fed, and comfortable;
• Eat before you go to the mall, or schedule a quiet break for a healthy snack, preferably not at the lunch rush hour, and try to avoid sugar and caffeine;
• Pay using cash or debit if you can, to minimize overspending and January bill shock;
• Finally, remember that when your credit card bill comes, interest is charged from the day of the original charge ,if not paid in full. Watch the payment due dates, and pay on time to avoid high interest charges.
For family parties with kids and teens, try this game: each person at the party (even toddlers) brings a $5 wrapped gift, the sillier the better. All gifts go in the middle of the room. Starting with the oldest, each person chooses a gift either from the pile of unwrapped presents, or from one of the opened ones already chosen (by someone older). If a person’s gift is stolen, he or she chooses another from the centre pile. As the choosers gets younger, they have more to choose from, until the youngest can choose their gift from anyone. It’s a good idea to have a few spares in case of conflict, but as everyone only spends $5 for each person in their family, costs are low. And, the activity is really fun.
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